segmentationThere’s no nice way around it: email marketing takes a lot of work. There are so many moving parts, and the smallest adjustments to one element can affect the rest. For beginners, email marketing is like a game of Jenga. You take greater and greater risks in the hopes of avoiding total collapse. But once you gain some skill, you can take more strategic actions without worrying about taking down your entire campaign.

Here, we’re going to tackle one small, yet critical, piece of the email marketing puzzle: list segmentation.

What is List Segmentation?

Segmenting refers to the act of dividing your entire list of contacts into sub-groups in order to target more accurately specific types of people with specific types of needs.

By segmenting your list, you can send messages with calls-to-action that list of people are most likely to engage with and, as a result, see an increase in leads, referrals, and new business. While the average open rate for email campaigns is 22.5%, a study found that proper list segmentation can increase open rates by 20% to 40%, with a subsequent rise in click-through rates.

How Can I Segment My Lists?

For business owners, there are a few different ways to segment a list, including by:

Age Range

Age is one of the more obvious ways financial advisors and insurance agents may divide their lists, as age often dictates a client’s financial concerns. You can segment based on generations, such as Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers, or by a set range, like 20s-40s, 50s-60s, and 70s+.

Geographic Location

Depending on how you operate, you may choose to divide up your lists based on your contacts’ location. If you frequently host office and community events, you may want to create a local (within driving distance) list and a non-local list. This way, you’ll only send event invites to the people you know can actually attend. Or, if you travel around the country, split up your lists by state or area where you travel. This makes it easy to make announcements when you plan on traveling and can meet in-person with clients. Lastly, you can split up lists based on the climate and seasons. For example, for the regions that experience heavy snowfall in winter, you could send out a blog post on winter safety tips. For those in year-round warm-weather areas, you would send something different.

Income

Splitting up a list based on a client’s income level can work well for advisors who use unique strategies or offer certain services for high income earners. For example, you may only offer an annual review for anyone with $150k to $500k of investable assets, but provide a bi-annually or quarterly review for those will over $500k. Or, you may want to send a frequent market update report to high net-worth clients, but not those who aren’t actively investing or who are just getting started investing.

Client Type

When in doubt regarding segmentation, this is the first place to start and the type of segmentation every advisor should at least try. This type of segmentation is ideal for advisors who work with a wide range of clients. You can segment your list and have sub-groups for business owners, families, 401(k) participants, retirees, and clients’ children and grandchildren. You likely have a different relationship with each of these clients and a different end-goal in mind. For business owners, it may be maintaining their retirement plan and working with them until they sell their business. For 401(k) participants, it may be converting them to a financial planning client. For families, it may be gaining introductions to children to maintain generational relationships.

Financial Focus

All of your clients have unique financial goals in mind that you can group together in different lists, be it retiring, building their first portfolio, leaving a legacy, or selling a business. By creating subgroups based on your contacts’ financial focus, you can send content and information specifically about these goals. This type of segmentation is ideal for sharing lifestyle blogs and news articles.

Relationship

If you want to start sending drip campaigns (a series of emails designed to guide a person through the sales funnel), you’ll want to segment your list based on your relationship with your contact, such as long-term client, new client, prospect, referral, or strategic partner. For long-term clients, your focus will be on maintaining strong relationships and reminding them they can reach out to you with questions. For prospects and referrals, you’ll instead focus on how you can help them pursuing their financial goals.

Hobbies & Interests

If you are a content marketer at heart and enjoy sending lifestyle content, you can segment your lists based on your contacts’ hobbies and interests. If you know a lot of golfers, you may group them together into a list and send them information on upcoming golf events, or tie together the game of golf with investing.

Level of Interest

No one likes to be a nag or an email spammer. If you want to send a frequent newsletter or ongoing email campaigns, consider segmenting your list based on their level on the hot-warm-cold scale. If they’re a hot lead (highly interested in your services), you can send them more frequent emails than a cold lead who isn’t ready to get started yet.

Don’t be afraid to create multiple lists and various segmentations. The more you segment your lists, the more highly tailored your messages will be.